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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bless Be The Tie That Binds





This week we have seen President Trump yearning to be the Strong Man.  Now lets all confess at the outset we have all been there before ourselves.  It is the desire in some sense to be the dramatic Superman swooping in on the scene to make histrionic and decisive change. Yet, as is so often the case in the complex cacophony of human affairs, resources can be ridiculously outstripped by the grind of mundane needs.  How often have I dreamed that if I could only have unlimited financial resources, I could finally bestow on those I love a final financial solution to end all sadness and grief?.  

Some weeks ago my wife and I were in my villa when I brought a plastic chair from off the patio and positioned it on the interior hard wood floors. On heavily resting myself within the seat the legs attempted to spread-eagle on the slick floor, a leg broke off, and I landed with a thud on the floor.  To all my young and lithe readers out there, let me rudely interpose here an unpleasant fact--old folks like me do not after a fall spring elf-like back on our feet.  No, it literally took me over two hours to so position myself on my knees with suitable structural support surrounding me to once again return to a standing position. Now my wife Connie--due to her physical limitations--could not begin to play the role of a Super-Strong Superwoman. She was there and could have called the first responders as a last resort.  But her continuous indispensable role for more than two stressful hours was TO BE THERE to supply encouragement and moral support. Sometimes with Super-Strong Man images clouding our minds, we tremendously underestimate the essential redemptive nature of just BEING THERE.  I have little doubt that countless parents under severe financial limitations daydream of a stupendous monetary windfall allowing them to save their children....whereas in truth wealth alone can never match the overwhelming need for a BEING THERE supportive embrace

This past week the chief representatives of NATO countries met to ceremonially symbolize SUPPORT in the face of continuing vulnerability.  The whole point of the ceremonies was a mutual demonstration of BEING THERE for one another--even if that should finally entail battlefield death.

When a family visits a loved-one in the hospital (as of, say, a youth seriously injured in a motorcycle accident), there may indeed be words of wisdom older family members may in their view wish to give a careless youth. But there is a season for all things and when a son's life hangs in the balance, there is need for a family circle of unadulterated and palpable symbolized support.

God give us grace to know when to embrace and when to refrain from embracing.


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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Donald Trump and Me





Good morning Pres. Donald Trump!

I would like to talk to you this morning as simply “Wayne” and I hope you don’t mind that I address you as Donald. 

Donald I look at your character and mine and come away with a nagging sense that in ways that neither of us perhaps can take credit for or blame, we profoundly differ. I understand that you do not drink alcohol and neither do I--for the very same reason I think.  We deeply understand the harm that it brings to human beings.  Both of us have an intimate acquaintance of harm done by alcohol to a loved one close to us. But at this point our behavior dramatically differs. It drives me crazy to walk through a convenience store with alcohol stacked so high that it literally seems to submerge me in its poison.  I feel for any youngster growing up after having gone down such cornucopias aisles of resplendent alcohol abundance. They cannot help but feel that alcohol belongs in American life – indeed, that it must have compelling health benefits. 

Donald even though a close family member of yours has died from alcohol and you too are so convinced of its harmfulness that you personally do not drink at all – yet even today you own a winery and own numerous properties that push alcohol relentlessly.  Your casinos were once destructive to your customers who--once clouding their judgment through alcohol--ran up enormous debts that you then relentlessly pursued with a staff of lawyers.  How is it that you do not include others within a circle of concern that includes yourself?  Do you see them as suckers to be exploited?  Do you feel that their pain validates and even proves your own superiority?

Don, I too like the smell of money – one of my favorite addictions is spending it every chance I get in Walmart. I suppose the very human response to a query regarding the measure of a money in a bank account is always “I could use more!”  Can you explain why we can be so much alike and yet so different? 








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Friday, June 15, 2018

The Weighty Matter of Post-It Notes

2 Kings 5:9-16 (NIV)

9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”

16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.

--------------------

A woman can be proud and stiff
When on love intent;
But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement….

from ...Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop
BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

----------------- 

The more one experiences the leading of the Holy Spirit, the more one appreciates that God’s directives and lessons can seem sorely lacking in what humans typically consider suitable dignity and appropriateness.  The most valuable graduates from high flying Ivy League schools are those that intuitively grasp that the best answer for a perplexing outstanding social dilemma may well arise from a child's crayon drawing casually attached to a refrigerator door.




New Attitude (Lyrics)
Patti La Belle and The Bluebelles

Running hot
Running cold
I was running into overload
That was extreme.

I took it so high so low so long
There was no where to go like a bad dream.

Somehow [the] wires uncrossed
The table[s] were turned
Never knew I had such a lesson to learn.

I'm feeling good from my [head] to my shoe[s]
Know where I am going and I know what to do
I've tidied up my point of view
I've got a new attitude.

I'm in control
My worries are few
'Cause I got love like I never knew
Ooh oh ooo oh
I've got a new attitude.

I am wearing a new dress .. new hat
Brand [new] ideas
As a matter of fact
I've changed for good.

[It] Must have been the cold nights new moon
Night changes
Or forget your love for just being like I should

Songwriters: Bunny Hull / Jon Gilutin / Sharon Terea Robinson
New Attitude lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Link to source of above lyrics


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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Let Us Stand Tall and Guilty…of being a Christian

Carl Jordan and Alan Bury were some of my best friends in that their palpable goodwill towards me could include good-natured challenges to my imperfections—Carl saying with a winning smile when I was hesitant to help provide roller skates for the children in our immediate neighborhood (lilting to the tune of the O’jays…"I know what you’re interested in…”'Money, Money, Money'’’) and then Alan as my university Wesley Foundation chaplain at a student conference saying ”Now go over and make James feel welcome": (James Hood who had just integrated with great controversy the University of Alabama).  Of course, my friends' cheerful manner overflowing with certainty that I would “straighten up and fly right” made it easy for me to do so.  Think how different I would have felt if anger and cynicism had replaced their winning confidence and trust that I would do the right thing. (Witness such trust and confidence in an American President:
https://www.wayneblogs.com/2018/05/more-than-thoughts-and-prayers.html)

Somehow, I wish that same goodwill and certainty could have been embedded with the challenges facing the church in America when it witnessed the Vietnam War—many congregations prayed for our soldiers but never once challenged or even explored the wisdom of the war or how it was executed.  Likewise, the church found it difficult to move from broad, general endorsements of brotherly love to the nitty-gritty cruelties of Jim Crow Racism.

In these matters fear (and consequential ironclad complicit silences) filled the hearts and minds of Christ’s church.  All dreaded that out-of-the-closet integrity and honesty would result in organizational disintegration and death. All were filled with self-doubt that Christian love could be any match for the passions of political tribalism.  Pathetically, they attempted to enlist as an unqualified mantra: “do not judge” to the degree that the devil himself (the very master of deceit) could remain head deacon.  All the while, it is never lost on any Christian that Christ was crucified not because he assiduously avoided judgment, but rather because he manifestly  judged the plainly evident failures of the scribes and Pharisees with uncompromising passion, conviction and out-there plain speaking.  (And we might ask ourselves, "What did these people so deeply invested in the status quo really fear?)

TODAY I ONLY WISH TO LOOK UPON THE CHURCH WITH A SMILE OF GOODWILL AND CLEARLY EVIDENT CONFIDENCE THAT IT WILL STAND UP AND STAND TALL TO PLAINLY EVIDENT  TRUMPISM CORRUPTION—TO TRULY TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART!!!











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Friday, June 1, 2018

By Any Other Name



(What would we do without our immensely talented artists?)


Rembrandt  - The Good Samaritan

Good Samaritan story found here (Luke 10:25-37)


The story of the Good Samaritan makes clear that a job label (or professional labels) can often not mean squat.  A major missionary providing for the needs of many smaller-town American communities came dressed not in the flowing robes of clergy, but someone with a sure faith that his proffered merchandise at affordable prices would be accepted and appreciated by a population heretofore bereft of many happy product choices. 


Wikipedia

Question:  Consider the last person who serviced your car.....other than the obvious conventional label tagged on his forehead....did he function as a minister?.....did he minister unto you in a most practical and helpful way?  How about myriad other of our fellow human resources  "doctor, lawyer, Indian chief"  or as I heard the other day..."those working from the basement to the top floor..and all floors in between...we're all humans just trying to do our part."


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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Government as an Instrument of Safety, Inspiration and Hope

Last evening on TV I flipped to the Local News & Weather Channel--I kid you not, the first breaking news was about a couple who incestuously molested their very own child.  Next came a report about a drive-by shooting in which a young man was killed; this  was  followed by a corruption story; followed by a story that babies in alarming numbers are being born with drug addiction due to their birth mothers’ own drug addiction   Finally came the weather report--a dangerous tropical storm is headed our way.   (Opps (ad time...)




Now the tone dramatically changed with a bouncy, attractive, and upbeat advertisement selling  the Florida Lotto (similar to ad above).  The room itself became illumined with inspiration and hope--if not exactly like a Shining City on a Hill, at least resplendent as the most luxurious suite in Vegas.

Just think about that for a moment--the institution whose sacred mission is to ensure public welfare, safety, and the common good is now peddling hope like a shyster preacher assuring that a hanky dipped in the Jordan River is your road to existential hope and preternatural riches [at core spiritually no different than peddling a false god].  

Maybe the many throughout American history who have died on battle fields, lynching fields, or dangerous streets have died with a prayer that America would one day fulfill  its promise of fair play for all …..that is, without question a death-wish prayer yearning for the erection of state-run one-armed bandits on every block and through government auspices trumpeting true-believer propaganda promising vaults  overflowing  with sequined wardrobes and a gushing satiation of private wealth.  (Maybe the heroes so died, then again, maybe not.)  Surely winning the mother lode is nothing less than the highest symbol of America’s Deepest Values and our most helpful and winning witness to the world.  [God Bless  America!!--as  President Trump so often prayerfully and humbly petitions--sometimes  even in public!!]






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